REF2 Character Record Sheets . . . ARRRRR!!!!!

In September of Advanced Dungeons & Dragon 2nd Edition’s maiden year, 1989, product 9264 was released as REF2 Character Record Sheets.  Now, this is still the most bootlegged product which TSR ever put out! With a suggested retail price of $8.95, many at the time felt that this was too expensive, especially when you could easily make them yourself at home. Those who did buy it, typically took it to a photocopier and did it that way. It is surprising how many whole and complete copies of this product are still available, especially for a product that was designed to be destroyed.

Back when this product first came out, there was no World Wide Web, desktop printing was no where near as advanced as it is today; I think that the only use that one ever got from their printer, if they even had one, was to print of these ugly banners. The photocopier was king! I remember going to the local library and paying fifteen cents per page!

So, there you are, you killed your character doing something stupid, and you are officially out of the game until you are finished with a new one. First thing first, you get out your binder of loose-leaf note pad paper, a ruler, a pencil, and some dice. While everybody else is playing, you are rolling up stats, so that you know what your character will be, and then you get your ruler and start drawing all of the slots that you wanted. Then, once you had drawn your own player character sheet, it was time to fill it out! Just the basics, but this process typically took the rest of the night. Once you get some free time, you’d go back over the character sheet with a pen so that you can see it better.

We really loved our characters too! We’d get eraser burns in our hp slots and on our own, we would just draw up a new Character Sheet to play with next time. I have drawings that I’ve made of my characters, and ones that were so special that I marked them out in pen.

Going through my Father-In-Law’s stuff, he had a variety of different character sheets, everything from basic notes written down on scratch paper, highly artistic drawings, to saving a blank drawing and photo copying that! The benefit of drawing up your own, was that you could add stuff that was important to your class, or individual to that character. Yes, they took a lot longer to draw up, but if you are playing a thief, a homemade PC Sheet is far superior to the published variety. You could also tell, at a glance, just whose character is whose because all of them were different. We don’t do this anymore either, I think that I made a custom PC sheet on the computer the last time I played, but it took even longer than just drawing my own by hand would be. For the most part, we use this book. We are much better about keeping characters alive, but back in the day, we’d really burn through this thing if we had one. To have a character go from 1st to 7th was a big deal! It was then that we’d feel confident enough to really get special with it.

The generic PC sheets, while they take some of the flavor away from the character itself, does allow us to play faster, and it is easier on the DM because he can quickly find the information that he’s looking for because it is always in the same place, however I don’t think that, when we use them, we are as intimate with our characters as we normally would be. I would get all kinds of ideas while drawing and redrawing them things up. When copying items that I had collected through my adventures, I’d remember each one and how I got it. It was fun!

It is funny, how people will look down on you for playing with bootlegged material, however they go right to Dragonfoot to download a copy of these PC sheets to print off without even thinking about it. Are they free to use? Do we have permission to photocopy them? The answer is NO! We can photocopy the special PC sheets found in the Complete Series for personal use, but as far as the original Character Record Sheets go, there was no permission ever given; at least not on the product itself. The copy on Dragonfoot and other locations around the web have been there for years! Wizards of the Coast definitely knows about them, but since they say nothing, it can be assumed that we can print off our own. Can you imagine a lawyer trying to bust all of the people who have pirated these things over all these years?

The product itself is one of convenience, it is not necessary to play the game, and it never was! Yes, it looks good and is fast to use, but the information that it contains is subpar at best. Besides the PC Sheets, you also get a good collection of spell sheets which you can fill out as you go, they work for both the mage, cleric, and all other spell casters, and those are pretty convenient! Looking up spells and reading those descriptions to the DM can take time, this product allows us to have all of the basics right at our fingertips! But, again, you can download these for free or make one yourself with you computer.

This book has been republished through the years, but as far as I know was never modified until the Player’s Options series was published. Collectors are interested in this product, but as far as the casual gamers go, if they find a cheap copy then they might pick it up. I know that I still use mine and it has lasted a really long time! The sheets are a lot stronger than loose leaf paper, and resist eraser burns, spilled drinks, cheezy poof stains, and cigarette ash. They aren’t overly detailed, but you can keep them in a folder with all of your PC memorabilia and it will last for years! It Is kind of fun finding a character sheet from decades ago that you had forgotten about and is still looks the same as when you last played it, so maybe there was more to this product than meets the eye?

I personally give it a D+, there is definitely worse stuff out there, but it isn’t nearly as useful as it claims to be.


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